David Ball – For The Record

The Orange County Commissioners Court approved their proposed tax rate for fiscal year 2015-2016 at their meeting on the afternoon of August 17. County Judge Brint Carlton was absent from the meeting.

Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, said the court has had “many, many discussions” on the tax rate and arrived at the following numbers:

Non-Restricted Funds had a total of $4,026,543, Total Operating Revenues had a total of $42,938,883, Total Operating Expenditures had a total of $46,738,373 and Ending Cash & Investment- General and Specific Purpose had a total of $227,053.

A 2015 proposed Tax rate of $.5440 per $100 of value was adopted. Commissioners said they cannot go over that number, but they can go under that number. A proposed 2015 Rollback Tax Rate of 4.567952 per $100 of value was adopted.

Crump said the Rollback Rate is the maximum tax rate.

Consequently, two public hearings were set for the proposed Tax Rate. The first will be at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, August 31 in the Orange County Commissioners’ Courtroom. The second public hearing will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 10 in the commissioners’ chambers.

Certain substance abuse treatment services were declared to be professional services by the court within the scope of the Texas Local Government Code. The services are provided to probationers supervised by the Orange County Community Supervision and Corrections Department.

Jayme Culbertson, adult probation director, said the department uses two different vendors.

Douglas Manning, assistant county attorney, said there are two possible outcomes: declaring in treatment services are medical in nature or if they’re rendered by a licensed physician.

The court approved income levels for the Orange County Indigent Health Care Program effective Sept. 1, 2015 through Aug. 31, 2016.

Jennifer Haney, social services director, requested an income level of 49 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. This is the same income level for the past five years.

Crump said after the meeting it wasn’t necessary for Carlton to be present this stage during the budget process because the presiding judge moves from commissioner to commissioner.

“As long as there is a quorum to conduct business,” he said. “Now he needs to be here when we adopt the tax levy vote. There needs to be at least four to five (commissioners).”

During the comments section of the meeting, Barry Burton, Precinct 2 commissioner, said there’s scaffolding in front of the Orange County Courthouse to make repairs to the front entrance. He thanked Purchasing Agent Connie Cassidy for her quick action in getting the project rolling.

Robert Rothrock resides in Precinct 1. He said he went to the Precinct 1 Barn and all of the men were standing around and waiting for the sign painter to give them something to do.

“We need a head chopper,” he said. “There’s too many standing around doing nothing.”

David Smith, a Precinct 2 resident and president of the Golden Triangle Militia, said the last two Certified Emergency Response Teams meetings have been canceled the past two months.

He said citizens need to be prepared for emergency situations such as hurricanes.

“This is not a good situation. Somebody needs to get something done,” Smith said.